Canadian Food Memories

Have a good look at the picture below and tell me what you see.

If you said “macaroni and cheese”, you’re way off. And you’re not Canadian.

We’re talking about the blue box of goodness here. Kraft Dinner. Skinny macaroni and that packet of frighteningly orange “cheese” powder, a staple of my childhood. I ate so much of this stuff that I should be a lot more yellow by now from all that dye. I burned out on it near the end of my teens, pushing it to the “starving and in a hurry and I can’t find anything else” category of foods, but I used to ask for KD for supper. With hot dogs cut up in it. And not with ketchup. I don’t care what the Barenaked Ladies tell you, that is not a thing.

They have almost the same stuff here, but it’s not quite the same. The box is different, and it changed its name when it crossed the border, but even the taste isn’t right. I’ve found that the American doppelgangers of my favorite childhood foods are always just a little off. They look similar enough to inspire some excitement as I pop open a bottle or tear open a box, but then I’m left with a sense of emptiness when they don’t live up to the dream.

These are cans of Alpha-getti and Zoodles. You don’t know what these things are unless you grew up in the Great White North, and if this is your story, I am sad for you. They are alphabet or animal noodles in a tomato sauce, and they made it possible for a whole generation of Canadian schoolchildren to learn to spell with their dinners or have hippopotamuses for lunch. After moving here, I had an unhealthy craving for Zoodles, but couldn’t find them at the grocery store. I decided Spaghetti-O’s would be a reasonable substitute, since O does indeed belong to the alphabet. And I guess if you had a great imagination, they could be interpreted as rolled-up armadillos and this fit into the Zoo family in a pinch. But no, they didn’t quite taste right. Actually, they sucked. I do not like Spaghetti-O’s!

America’s got plenty of awesome foods and I’m not wasting away for lack of tasty things to eat, but sometimes, when I’m tired, or home sick (or, for that matter, homesick), I crave a familiar taste of home, and the stuff here just can’t give that to me.

Dear family: send Zoodles.

One thought on “Canadian Food Memories

  1. Natasha

    1) If you open an BOTTLE of Kraft Dinner, then I think there is no hope for the great frozen north above.

    2) Hippopotamuses? Hippopotamii? This is like the debate about pluralizing male genitalia, isn’t it?

    3) I’m sure you can find someone to send you Zoodles. And if not, I’ll kick them until they do.


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